Finally the snows have gone and early February is looking a bit warmer. Its been a terrible eight weeks or so for Great Britain…unfortunatly it still is for some.
When the weather turns one has to take advantage of it, so Thursday we packed an overnight bag and drove up through North Yorkshire to Julie’s mum and Dads at Great Ayton just outside of Middlesbrough. It was dry, blustery, and very cold…motorbike weather, but the bike is still under wraps waiting for painted parts to return so we took THUG.
The sun was behind us dancing with the clouds as we made out way north-east from Hatfield towards Selby and York, onto the empty A64 east towards Scarborough to the left hook a few miles along and head towards Sherrif Hutton.
In the mirror I saw the sun and clouds dance the dance as crows tried to ride the winds only to tumble along like Autumn leaves, it was blowing a right old “whooly” outside the THUG, we could feel the pressure against the nose as we turned and twisted along the B road, climbing high along the Hawardian Hills it got stronger and stronger, I paused to take a photo and found it hard to brace myself against the winds, I upped the speed on the camera trying to eliminate the blur that would come with the camera shake!
We reached the village of Helmsley and instead of taking the usual route up to Stokelsey along the bikers favorite road the B1257, we turned onto a little white road going north into The North York Moors towards a hamlet called Carlton, from here the road became extremely narrow, just a tractors width in fact. We were driving through some stunning countryside as we rode higher and along the ridge to Cockayne.
Here we came across a red telephone box and three farmsteads and a church! The clouds had left us now, leaving just the sun blue sky and howling winds.
We drove on towards the sky eventually topping out on moorland, not a tree hedge of bush sheep or another soul around, we both liked the idea of living in these parts. We both find people are so bothersome at times. Proper friends on the other hand are OK but are far and few between!
We drove down into Bransdale towards Gilamoor and soon picked up the familiar road from Hutton-Le-Hole to Castleton. The sheep and occasional black grouse were the only living beings we saw on this ten-mile drive, we hardly noticed the howling winds as we immersed ourselves in the beautiful surroundings, hardly speaking, just to point out things and spotting the secretive black grouse. Have you ever noticed how wood looks green and clean when your out in the wilds and not slaty grey like back home?
We climbed even further with Rosedale to our right before swinging left towards Westerdale, picking our way off the hillside to the bottom of the snow filled valley and the familiar farm with the dogs and the row of white pot toilets, in the spring these are full of blooming bulbs!
Remember to left click with your cursor on the photo’s to make them larger.
From here we took the road towards Kildale and Great Ayton, a journey of three hours and about 140 miles. Going direct is about 90 minute and 85 miles, but this way is much more fun!
We spent the rest of the afternoon and evening catching up with Julie’s parents, it had been a good few months since our last visit and they had plenty to say about the usual things. I spent the last couple of hours of January reading a book “Phoenix Squadron” about an incident in the 1972 when Guatemalan forces threatened to invade British Honduras and how the Royal Navy saved the Conservative governments face yet again in spite of defence cuts, this sounds all too familiar doesn’t it? It’s a right scorcher of a book!
This is Julie’s favorite tree in Great Ayton, just around the corner is the world-famous SUGGITTS ice cream parlour, it’s as famous as fook and folk come from miles around to have some. In the late afternoon sun though it was just toooo cold! it was so cold necks were firmly wound in a clothing no matter how uncolour coordinated was worn to keeps one ears from dropping of in the cold wind!
The next morning after breakfast we took a walk round the village before making our way to the car park intending to walk a mile or so up through the forest to the top of the hill and the Captain Cook Monument.
The wind was pretty fierce at the top it really made my eyes water, it was so fierce it would have knocked the spots of a teenagers face! Julie was wrapped up against it and looked as warm as toast. I was sporting several fleece jackets and a thermal hat with two very runny eyes! I’ve never liked wearing sunglasses I don’t really know why, maybe its coz I just like to see what I’m looking at?
We spent a while on the flat top just looking, looking mainly north towards Middlesbrough and Stockton-on-Tees. It was mid morning so quite hazy and the distance blurred out beyond the wind turbines in the middle distance.
Julie looks west over the Cleveland Hills.
We were too far away to see but could imagine the excellent biking road twisting and turning along the bottom of the opposing hills running from Stokesley to Helmsley.
With no tears left to stream we began to explore the woods behind and tried various routes back down towards the car park. Its amazing the difference a hundred yards makes, we were now out of the howling winds and into the shade, the peace and quiet was quite shattering, the thin pine trees had been farmed here and there, acres had been chopped down, how I yearned for my wheelbarrow to take all this beautiful chopped wood down to the car and home to our log burner! I look at felled wood with a different eye these days!
It was a huge contrast to the scene one hundred yards back the way we came!
The ground looks quite sandy doesn’t it? In fact its millions and millions of pine needles turning the texture of rough soil and stony ground into a smooth swathe of….sharp pine needles!
We soon reached the bottom and the car park, we’d walked perhaps a mile or so up and back down again, we decided to go up the opposing hill to have a look at the top. We found snow again as it had drifted against the stone wall, the sun and wind found us as we walked steadily upwards and onwards.
Off in the distance sits a famous hill, very distinct in shape and visible for miles, its called Roseberry Topping and would receive a visit from us on our next visit. The day was approaching midday and we had to be making tracks home. Lunch was waiting for us before we loaded THUG after which we said our goodbyes and returned back over the moors the way we came to take the long way home.
On our way back down to the village we saw four hardy souls in a field and stopped to say hello, I wanted to take a few photos of the really shaggy white lad but a really nosey darkie lad insisted on sniffing me out for carrots! Here was a field full of real characters!
The North York Moors is a place not to dash through. Plenty of time should be given for this journey.
We retraced the route to Helmsley, we decided to head off on a different route as we often tend to do! We took a short cut through Nunnington stopping at a country cafe in Hovingham, it was one of those places that takes ages to get served even though hardly anyone was in the place! We tried out their peppermint and liquorice tea having never tired it before. I have to say it was lovely, the liquorice flavour kicked in a minute later having sipped it. the lady said the peppermint was there to take away the rough bite of liquorice. It had the same long-lasting taste as Jaegermeister, in fact I swear I can still taste it!
The rest of the return journey was fairly uneventful save for another short detour down through a “Dingly Dell” on a road signed “Unsuitable for cars” These notices usually mean its going to be an interesting drive and we never usually shy away from them! All to soon we came out of a side road onto the A64, heading towards home with the setting sun behind us. Radio Hallam was on the radio it was quite strong now and not fading in hissing waves as it had done yesterday and for most of today, yes we were closing in on South Yorkshire and home!